Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that Sushma Swaraj as external affairs minister transformed her ministry from being bound to protocol to one oriented to “people’s call” and recalled she had urged him to deliver his first UN speech from a prepared text and not speak impromptu.
Joined by leaders from all major parties, Modi paid tributes to the BJP stalwart, who died last week, at a condolence meeting. The prime minister said he learnt a lot from her and then spoke about his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, months after he had assumed the office for the first time.
After she received him, he suggested that they sit together as he had to deliver his speech the next day, Modi said. Swaraj enquired where his speech was and he said he never writes his speeches as he finds it difficult. “She said, ‘aisa nahi hota hai bhai’ (It does work like this brother). ‘You have to speak about India to the world. You cannot speak as you wish’. I was prime minister and she was my colleague minister taking care of the external affairs ministry...” Modi said.
The prime minister said he had undertaken a long travel and was also on fast due to ‘navratra’ but she insisted he share his thoughts. The ministry prepared a draft speech for him, he said. “It was her request... One may be a fine orator but there are some forums which have their own traditions. This was the first lesson Sushma ji had taught me,” he said, adding she had the courage to speak what she believed to be right.
Referring to Swaraj’s prompt response to Indians facing problems abroad or related to the ministry, he said she transformed the ministry. It used to be bound to protocol but she transformed it and made it oriented to people’s call, he said.
BJP leaders, including Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and party’s working president J P Nadda, besides Anand Sharma of the Congress, Dinesh Trivedi of the Trinamool Congress, Pinaki Misra of the BJD, LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan, Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant and opposition leader Sharad Yadav were among others who spoke at the condolence meeting.
Here are the highlights:
6.46 pm: The speeches of Sushma Ji were both Prabhavi and Prerak. She remains an inspiration for several people: PM Modi
6.45 pm: Krishna Bhakti was integral to Sushma Ji. She would always abide by the ideals and teachings of Bhagwan Shri Krishna: PM Modi.
6.44 pm: In any ministerial duty she held, Sushma Ji brought about a marked change in the work culture there. One would conventionally associate the MEA with protocol but Sushma Ji went a step ahead and answered the people’s call, making the Ministry people friendly: PM Modi.
6.43 pm: The number of passport offices rose significantly during the tenure of Sushma Ji. This shows how much she cared about the people: PM Modi.
6.42 pm: In any ministerial duty she held, Sushma Ji brought about a marked change in the work culture there. One would conventionally associate the MEA with protocol but Sushma Ji went a step ahead and answered the people’s call, making the Ministry people friendly: PM Modi.
6.41 pm: Today, various people have shared their thoughts about Sushma Ji. She was a multifaceted personality and we, Karyakartas of the BJP have seen very closely what a great personality she was: PM Modi.
6.40 pm: We are used to people saying politically correct things but Sushma Ji was different. She did not hesitate to speak her mind and she spoke with firmness. This was special about her: PM Modi.
6.37 pm: Sushma ji's speech was effective as well as inspiring. In Sushma ji's statement, the depth of thought was experienced by everyone: PM Modi.
6.35 pm: Me and Venkaiah ji went to her and persuaded her to contest from Karnataka, the outcome of that election was certain, but her liked to face challenges: PM Modi
6.32 pm: Sushma ji had many facets of her personality, many walks of life and as a BJP activist working as an exclusive close companion, we have been a lively witness to innumerable incidents: PM Modi
6.31 pm: Sushmaji was an exceptional orator: PM Modi.
6.30 pm: Sushma Swaraj was an extra-ordinary leader: PM Modi.